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Corn Prices Projected Lower

Last week’s revised corn production estimates from USDA still came in record large at 13.1 billion bu. The new estimated was revised downward by about 20 million bu., based on updated harvest intentions from producers with un-harvested acres in Illinois and Minnesota, as well as updated production from Michigan. Producers in the Dakotas have yet to be re-polled.

But, according to last week’s monthly World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), the decrease in production is more than offset by expectations that the U.S. will export 100 million bu. fewer than projected last month. The result is an estimated increase of 80 million bu. for ending stocks (2009-10).

“As a result of accumulating stocks of grain and oilseeds in the world market, U.S. prices are expected to remain under pressure at least until the spring and summer months in the U.S. when the possibility of weather‐related crop production risk and uncertainty may provide more support,” explains Daniel O’Brien, Kansas State University Extension ag economist.

WASDE analysts lowered the top end of their price projection for corn by 20¢/bu. to a 2009-10 market year average of $3.45-$3.75.

Writing in his Grain Outlook newsletter last week, O’Brien said, “Although export demand for U.S. corn has been slower than previously expected, uncertainty about un-harvested 2009 corn production and worries about potentially wet spring field conditions may provide support for corn prices in coming months.”

He adds that a number of important supply‐related questions pertaining to the final size and quality of the U.S. 2009 corn crop weren’t addressed in the March WASDE report. These questions pertain to the impacts of:

  • Possible quality deterioration of some 2009 corn supplies that are now in storage or are still un-harvested;
  • Potential production losses on as much as 500‐650 million bushels of the 2009 U.S. crop corn that are still un-harvested in the Central, Western and Northern Corn Belt; and
  • The still-remote possibility of abandonment of un-harvested 2009 crop corn acres in spring 2010, due to wet soils and the subsequent need for farmers to begin planting the 2010 corn crop.
You can find more of Obrien’s insights at

Risk Management Through Livestock Insurance Programs

mcdonald.jpg Crop farmers have been using insurance for years in order to minimize risk, protect against disaster and establish price bottoms. It was only a matter of time before livestock insurance became readily available, and two programs, Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) and Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) insurance, were the topics of discussion at a recent beef marketing/risk management session I attended last week. Tia McDonald, Extension associate in the Department of Economics at South Dakota State University (SDSU) reviewed the benefits of LRP and LGM to the producers in attendance at this meeting, and she encouraged ranchers to take advantage of these opportunities to minimize risk when making marketing decisions down the road.

img_5316.JPG Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance covers the risk of price declines for feeder cattle, fed cattle, and swine. It provides producers an indemnity if a regional or national cash price index falls below an insured coverage price. Similar to a put option, the LRP policy is price insurance only, providing single-peril price risk protection for the future sale of insured livestock, explained McDonald in referencing information provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).

Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) insurance offers protection against a decline in the feeding margin for cattle and swine. An indemnity is paid if the insured gross margin is greater than the total actual gross margin at the end of the insurance period.

Both insurance policies are available through the crop insurance agent system. Neither of these products guarantee a cash price received as the producer's actual cash market selling price is not used to determine indemnities. LRP and LGM Insurance programs allow producers to customize these products to their individual needs and efficiently manage price risk without the use of the futures market.

I had the opportunity to interview McDonald following her presentation to further explain these two livestock insurance programs available to producers. Take a minute or two to listen to our conversation below. Have you heard of these programs before? If so, have you thought about using them? Does anyone have experience with these programs to add to the conversation today? I think these are two risk management options worth considering for producers developing a marketing strategy, and if anyone has a success story, I would love to hear it.

BEEF Daily Quick Fact: In 2009, 4,072 head were insured through LRP in the state of South Dakota, more than any other state on record. In South Dakota, 1,500 head of fed cattle were insured using LGM in 2009. Iowa had the most enrolled in this program in 2009 with 2,815 head. (Source: McDonald)

Use Available Tools When Selecting Beef Genetics

Genetic selection of beef cattle has evolved considerably in recent times with many more tools available for making breeding decisions, according to University of Nebraska Extension beef genetics specialist Matt Spangler.

"Throughout history, we have been able to select our cattle by using many different tools," said Spangler during a meeting at the Nebraska Cattlemen's Classic in Kearney, Neb., recently. "We started with using pedigrees and phenotype, then added performance records, followed by EPDs (expected progeny differences), but now you need to know if you are selling phenotypes or genetics."

He said the primary source used when buying bulls continues to be visual appraisal for both commercial and seedstock beef producers. EPDs are generally the second tool producers will use.

To read the entire article, link here.

Animal Standards Fight Restarts in Ohio

The Ohio House voted 90 to 0 last week to establish the Ohio Livestock Standards Board. At the same time, Wayne Pacelle was in Ohio to kick off another constitutional ballot issue. The issue, backed by the Humane Society of the United States, would require the farm standards board to ban extreme confinement of pigs, chickens and other animals for most of their lives, prohibit using sick or injured cows for human consumption, and eliminate inhumane euthanasia methods.

Under the program, farm owners or operators would be barred from - tethering or confining any calf raised for veal, pig during pregnancy, or egg-laying hen, on a farm, for all or the majority of any day, in a manner that prevents such animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending his or her limbs, or turning around freely. A half-dozen exceptions are listed, including ones for fairs, rodeos and 4-H shows.

To read the entire article, link here.

PETA Offers to Put Pro-Vegan Trash Cans in Springs Parks

In Colorado Springs, streetlights have been turned off, cabbies patrol for crime, and trash cans have been removed from parks.

Now a controversial animal-rights group wants to help out the city — and get a little publicity for itself — by purchasing trash cans for city parks that would feature an anti-meat slogan and a woman clad in a lettuce bikini.

Although the city’s been actively exploring sponsorships and partnerships to help keep parks clean and community centersopen, Mayor Lionel Rivera and other city officials are leery about the offer from PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

To read the entire article, link here.

ND Cattle Feeder OK'd to Pursue Feedlot For Canadian Cattle

A North Dakota cattle feeder in the eastern part of the state was given the go-ahead to proceed with pursuing a restricted feedlot.

Korby Kost of Carrington, ND, would like to feed imported Canadian cull cows and bulls at his feedlot near Carrington. He intends to have the cattle slaughtered in Minnesota.

The State Board of Animal Health agreed to the restricted feedlot proposal contingent upon both parties agreeing to a set of guidelines for the feedlot.

To read the entire article, link here.

No-Till Fails For These 10 Reasons

While many people are convinced no-till is the way to farm, many others are convinced it does not work. Clearly no-till farming can work, but failures typically occur because of one or more of these 10 reasons:

1. Selecting the wrong seed variety
No-till seedlings may experience cooler and wetter seedbeds. Planting varieties that tolerate these conditions is important.

2. Lack of crop rotation
Crop rotation is important to break up disease, insect and weed cycles. Double cropping the same crops every year is not a crop rotation. A field must grow a different crop at the same time of year in consecutive years to be in a rotation.

3. Lack of equipment
The main equipment needed is a no-till planter and a sprayer. The technology of both of these has improved significantly in the past decade. Using old equipment may be of as little benefit as using the wrong equipment.

To read the entire article, link here.

South Dakota Hosts National Farmers Union Convention

Farmers and ranchers from across the U.S. will gather in South Dakota for the National Farmers Union (NFU) annual convention March 14-16 at Rapid City, S.D. The convention will be held at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center.

“South Dakota has a rare opportunity to host one of the nation's largest agricultural conventions, and we're honored to do so,” said South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) President Doug Sombke. “It's a chance for us to show our state off to the entire country. Farmers and ranchers from all across the U.S. will be here, and we're excited to have them. We're ready to show them how great this state is.”

SDFU will send six voting delegates to the NFU who will shape the policy of the agricultural organization. Jared Hettinger, of Stickney; Chad Johnson, of Groton; Norris Patrick, of White; and Deb Harwood, of Union Center were elected by the SDFU membership to serve as delegates. SDFU Vice President Wayne Soren, of Lake Preston, and SDFU Board Member Franklin Olson, of Pierpont, will also serve as voting delegates. Many SDFU members from across the state will also be in attendance.

For more information, link here.


Country Natural Beef Animal Welfare Standards Receive Endorsement from Leading Industry Expert Dr.Temple Grandin

Vale, OR – February 4, 2010 – Country Natural Beef, the pioneering, Oregon-founded natural beef cooperative, announced today that well known animal behaviorist Dr. Temple Grandin has officially endorsed their “Raise Well” animal welfare standards, a program that ensures consumers receive the very best natural and humanely raised beef products available.

Dr. Grandin, a professor at Colorado State University, is one of the world’s very few livestock-handling equipment designers and has designed the facilities in which half of the nation’s cattle are handled. A full-length film, titled Temple Grandin, which profiles her life story with Autism and showcases her talent in developing a behavioral tool that revolutionized the cattle industry, premieres on February 6 on HBO.

“The ranching families who form Country Natural Beef are really dedicated to producing beef in a humane, sustainable manner. When I went to the CNB annual meeting, I was impressed with how each rancher had an opportunity to voice their opinion on the guidelines,” said Dr. Grandin. “They are hardworking, honest people who are close to the land, and they have enthusiastically implemented a three tier auditing process. This will help insure that the cattle are handled and raised according to high standards.”

Dr. Grandin worked with Country Natural Beef over the past year to help the 120 ranch families of the Country Natural Beef cooperative write their animal welfare standards. She will also be involved in developing Country Natural Beef’s ranch audit processes. All Country Natural Beef ranches are third party audited and certified sustainable by Food Alliance, the most comprehensive certification program for farms, ranches and food handlers for sustainable agricultural and facility management practices.

“Dr. Grandin’s guidance in developing and endorsing our standards confirms that the welfare of animals is respected by both the agricultural community as well as by the consumers of our beef products,” said Dan Probert, executive director of Country Natural Beef.

About Country Natural Beef

Country Natural Beef was founded in 1986 by 14 family ranchers in eastern Oregon with a vision to protect open spaces and raise beef cattle in harmony with the land. Today the cooperative is made up of 120 family ranches scattered across the west. All Country Natural Beef is third party certified for humane animal practices and environmentally sensitive land management by Food Alliance. Country Natural Beef is free of added hormones or antibiotics. Their beef is sold by some of the most sustainable groceries and restaurants in the country, including Burgerville, New Seasons Markets, PCC Natural Markets, Town & Country/Central Markets, and Whole Foods.



URBANDALE, Iowa, (AgPR), March 11, 2010 — Farm Safety 4 Just Kids,, has received $2,500 from CoBank on behalf of Daniel T. Kelley, first vice chairman of the cooperative bank’s board and owner of Kelley Farms, a diversified corn and soybean operation in Normal, Illinois.

The donation will be used to support the organization’s $10 million Children Safety Campaign endowment. Farm Safety 4 Just Kids promotes a safe farm environment to prevent health hazards, injuries, and fatalities to rural children and youth. The organization produces and distributes educational materials addressing various dangers commonly found in the rural environment, and is supported by a network of 137 chapters and 6,200 grassroots volunteers located throughout the United States and Canada.

“We certainly appreciate this generous gift from CoBank in support of our agricultural risk and safety education programs,” Founding President Marilyn Adams said. “Each year, hundreds of children die and thousands are injured on the farm where they live, work and play. This contribution will make a meaningful difference in keeping rural children safe.”

“I’m incredibly proud that the bank is underwriting Farm Safety 4 Just Kids,” Kelley said. “This donation will play an important role in equipping families on farms and ranches with the knowledge they need to maintain a safe environment for children.”

Farm Safety 4 Just Kids receives the gift as part of CoBank’s corporate giving program, which allows employees and board members to direct bank donations to their choice of non-profit organizations and programs. Through the program, CoBank donated more than $1.2 million last year to benefit local communities where its employees and directors live and work.